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the most famous master in the art of penmanship, and all its relative

, the most famous master in the art of penmanship, and all its relative branches, of his time, in our country, was born in 1547. Anthony Wood says he was a most dextrous person in his profession, to the great wonder of scholars and others, and adds, “That he spent several years in sciences among the Oxonians, particularly, as it seems, in Gloucester hall but that study which he used for a diversion only, proved at length an employment of profit.” It seems probable, however, that he resided at that university to teach his own art, for profit. The earliest account we have of his skill, mentions a micrographical performance, in which the writing was so wonderfully small, yet so very legible, that it surprised all who saw it, and advanced his name into Holinshed’s Chronicle. This delicate specimen of his art is also thus celebrated by Mr. Evelyn. “Adrian Junius speaks of that person as a miracle (F. Alumnus), who wrote the apostles’ creed, and beginning of St. John’s gospel, in the compass of a farthing. What would he have thought of our famous Bales, who, in 1557, wrote the Lord’s prayer, creed, decalogue, with two short Latin prayers, his own name, motto, day of the month, year of our Lord, and of the queen’s reign, to whom he presented it at Hampton court, all within the circle of a single penny, enchased in a ring and border of gold, and covered with crystal, so nicely wrote as to be plainly legible, to the admiration of her majesty, her privy council, and several ambassadors who then saw it.” He wasalso skilled in other excellencies of the pen, which seem to have recommended him to employment, upon certain particular emergencies, under the secretary of state, about 1586, when the conspiracies of Mary queen of Scots with the Popish faction were discovered. And as sir Francis Walsingham had other able instruments to unveil the disguised correspondence which passed between them, he had also need of some one who was expert in the imitation of hands, and could add, according to instruction, any postscript, or continuation of one, in the very form and turn of letters wherein the rest of the epistle was written, to draw out such farther intelligence as was wanted for a complete discovery from the traitors themselves, of their treasonable intercourse. Mr. Bales was famous for this dangerous talent, and was employed to exercise the same, sometimes, for the service of the state. A few years after, about 1589, and not long before the death of the said secretary, Bales, by a friend, complained that some preferment which he had been led to expect, had not been settled upon him, for what he had formerly performed in behalf of the government before the said queen’s death and, upon the merit of this service, he was several years after in quest of a place at court, though we cannot find that he ever obtained it. It appears also, that he had some occasion given him to write er speak something in defence of accurate penmen, or those who were masters in the art of writing, against the unreasonable and illiberal insinuations of some supercilious courtier, who would have objected his profession against his promotion, as if writing were but a mechanic art, and the masters of it fitter to guide the hands of boys than the heads of men. Bales took much pains to confute these objections, and although disappointed, he continued to follow his business, teaching the sons and daughters of many persons of distinction, some at their own houses, others at his school, situated at the upper end of the Old Bailey, where also some of the best citizens sent their children. Here we find him in 1590, publishing the first fruits of his pen, as he observes in his epistle, his “Writing Schoolmaster, in three parts.” From the first of which, shewing how, by the contraction of words into literal abbreviations, the pen of a writer may keep pace with the tongue of a moderate speaker, Mr. Evelyn conceived he was the inventor of short-hand, but he was rather the improver of a scheme published about two years before (1588) by Dr. Timothy Bright, a physician of Cambridge yet his improvement was so great as perhaps to constitute him the founder of all those successive systems of short-hand which have since led to perfection in this useful art.